- J. A. Smithers and S. N. Duff, Ecologistics Limited, Waterloo, Ont.
Evaluation Summary (Tech. Transfer Report Summaries)
View / Download Final Report [359 KB pdf]
Associated SWEEP/LSP Research
Completed: August, 1990
bibliography, social, economic, soil, water, conservation, research,
It has long been recognized that achieving soil and water conservation is
dependent on individual decisions of farm operators. This is especially
true in a voluntary compliance context where decisions are made as to whether
conservation technologies will be adopted, adapted, or rejected. Research
has established that both social and economic factors influence this decision
(From Technology Transfer Report Summaries - A. Hayes, L. Cruickshank, Co-Chairs)
The following is an annotated bibliography of research that has examined
the role of these social and economic factors in influencing the conservation
adoption decision process. The literature was examined to assess the current
body of knowledge in this regard, present this assessment in a organized
fashion, and identify any research deficiencies to assist future researchers
working in this area.
In view of the purpose of this project, annotations focus on social and
economic factors. This socio-economic literature parallels and often overlaps
a much larger body of research examining the physical processes associated
with soil and water conservation. Understanding of both the physical and
socio-economic dimensions is necessary for sound resource management. However,
the emphasis in this report is on social and economic factors influencing
adoption of soil and water conservation practices.
In consulting the annotated bibliography, users will notice a preponderance
of research articles from the United States relative to Canada This is not
due to the issue being more important in one nation as opposed to the other,
but to certain institutional arrangements found in the United States. Social
scientists within land grant universities in the United States have had,
and continue to have, access to long-term federal funds that have supported
many of the projects annotated in this report. This situation, combined
with the long history of public sector involvement through such agencies
as the Soil Conservation Service, has stimulated considerable activity in
all aspects of soil and water conservation.
The report begins by identifying a number of social (personal and community)
and economic (farm firm and institutional) factors that may influence the
use of conservation practices. Research articles were sought in nine electronic
data bases, numerous personal contacts with experts working in this area
and manual literature searches. A total of 255 records (research reports)
were annotated into the PROCITE software system. Seventy key descriptors
or search terms were assigned to the records to enable users to locate references
by subject matter.
Frequency counts were made of citations associated with the key descriptors
or terms as a method of discriminating major research questions and issues.
These results were combined with judgments of staff to identify 12 major
research questions. These questions served as a foundation for a workshop
attended by researchers, extension personnel and program managers. The objective
of the workshop was to articulate and rank research needs. Nineteen research
issues or questions were identified and ranked using nominal group techniques.
Rating scores varied between 10 and 22 with 13 research topics receiving
a score of 18 or higher. These results indicated that there are not one
or two critical issues; rather there are a set of inter-related issues that
need to be addressed in a coordinated or systems fashion. A summary of research
needs (Chapter 4) arising from the annotations and workshop is discussed
in the context of research design and approach, policy, economics, and technology
The three objectives of this study were to:
- Conduct an intensive bibliographic search of the relevant literature
sources on the social and economic factors which are believed to contribute
to the adoption of soil and water conservation practices.
- Present the findings in a computerized, annotated bibliography.
- Analyze the research conducted to date and identify the gaps in socio-economic
research regarding the adoption of agricultural soil and water conservation
The search was limited to North American socio-economic soil and water
conservation experience from 1970 onwards. The search was further restricted
to "hard" scientific research (journals, etc.), emphasis on the 1980's,
and grey literature, including the popular farm press, was excluded. The
databases searched are listed as well as key descriptors/search terms applied
to the annotations. A total of 255 records are included in the bibliography
and it was compiled on the bibliographic software package PROCITE. These
are listed in appendix B of the report. A copy of the PROCITE database is
housed in the Soil and Water Conservation Information Bureau, University
A workshop was held to identify the socio-economic research gaps in the
province. The workshop participants included researchers, extension personnel
and program managers, conservation farmers, as well as Ecologistics staff.
Twelve questions were developed for discussion at the workshop. The questions
were taken largely from the further study indicated in the research papers
in the bibliography. A total of nineteen topic areas were derived from the
discussion and were then ranked.
The four highest ranked issues were as follows: (all had equal scores)
account for risk in economic analyses, the need for integrated research,
off-site considerations in public policy and policy designed according to
the nature of the problem. The next highest ranked (again with equal scores)
were: biophysical limitations to economic research, evaluation of policy
instruments and evaluation of applicability of U.S. findings.
The final part of the study summarizes the research questions or needs
which have emerged from various elements of the study. The research needs
were summarized in five areas: research, design and approach, policy, economics
and technology transfer.
The report should prove to be a useful reference for the research community,
policy, researchers and conservationists. Much is known about socio-economic
fundamentals. There exists a need to link the most applicable of these to
- SWEEP Report #3 - An Economic Assessment of
the Distribution of Benefits Arising from Adoption of Conservation Tillage
Practices in Crop Production in Southwestern Ontario
- SWEEP Report #7 - Sources of Motivation in
the Adoption of Conservation Tillage
- SWEEP Report #8 - Social Structure and the
Choice of Cropping Technology: Influence of Personal Networks on the Decision
to Adopt Conservation Tillage
- SWEEP Report #9 - Conservation Practices in
Southwestern Ontario Agriculture: Barriers to Adoption
Future Research: ( ) indicates reviewers suggestion for
priority, A - high, C - low.
(C) The report identifies a number of areas that require further research.
Thursday, May 19, 2011 01:54:03 PM